How to Write Numbers Properly
By Stephen Bucaro
One of the most common mistakes I find in articles is the incorrect expression of
numbers. Many people don't understand when to write a number as a digit, and when to write
a number as a word. The following rules will help you decide which to use.
• For numbers 0 through 10, use words. For numbers 11 or greater, use digits.
• If a paragraph or sentence has related numbers, some that are below
11 and some that are above 11, use digits for all numbers.
Example: The three checkout lines had 8, 10, and 14 customers.
Although the numbers 8 and 10 are below 11, because they are related to the number 14,
they are expressed as digits.The number "three" is below 11 and not related to the other
numbers, so it's expressed as a word.
• Avoid beginning a sentence with a number. If you must begin a
sentence with a number, then write the number as a word. If another related number appears
in the same sentence, write it as a word also.
Example: Three coal miners went down shaft number 14, the other twelve miners went
down shaft number 11.
• Express mixed numbers and fractions as digits.
Examples: 3 1/2 3.57
• Express large numbers as digits or mixed digits-words. Whichever form you choose, use that form consistently.
Examples: $100,000,000 or $100 million.
• Use digits in dates.
Example: July 4, 1776
• Use digits with units of measurement.
Example: 5 gallons, 10 minutes
• Use digits in a ratio
Example: The score was 21 to 10.
• In a street address, keep the number the same as its official designation.
Examples: One Shaumberg Place, 1 First Avenue